2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil2onions, coarsely chopped1 tbsp dried thyme leaves4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced1.2 kg oxtail, cut into 5cm lengthsFor dusting:plain flour2green-lip abalone, cleaned (see note)6strips of lemon rind, removed with a peeler500 ml veal or chicken stock3baby fennel, halved and thinly sliced lengthways, fronds reserved
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large flame-proof casserole dish, add onion, thyme and garlic and sauté over medium heat for 10 minutes or until tender. Place in a bowl. Add remaining oil to casserole, dust oxtail in flour and cook over high heat, turning occasionally for 5 minutes or until golden.
Preheat oven to 150C. Cut abalone into 1cm thick slices and place in casserole with onion mixture and lemon rind. Cover with veal stock, season to taste and bring to a simmer. Cover and bake for 4 hours or until abalone is tender. Combine fennel and fennel fronds and serve with abalone and oxtail.
Note Green or black-lipped abalone is available
by request from specialist seafood companies.
While oysters, mussels and scallops receive their fair share
of attention, there's a bevy of other shellfish, too, such as
pippies, cockles and clams, which promise plenty of pleasure on the
plate. These daintier varieties, along with mussels, should be
purchased alive. You can check their condition by tapping any open
shells - they should close immediately. They're sometimes sold
sandless (that is, purged of sand), but if they're not, you'll need
to purge them. Do this by soaking in salted cold water for about an
hour. Discard any shells that don't open during cooking. While
fresh scallops are available to restaurants, they're harder for
home cooks to lay their hands on. Look for examples with plump
flesh and always buy them fresh rather than frozen. If you can't
find shellfish at your local market or fishmonger, give your local
Chinatown a go.